J.R.R. Tolkien said in his beloved series, “It simply isn’t an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.” In theory, we all believe this. No book is worth reading and no movie is worth watching without conflict, without struggle, without good vs. evil and heroes vs. villains.
We appreciate this in the creative arts, but not so much in our own lives. At least, I don’t.
You see, I have a dragon problem. This sneaky beast has been with me for years, dwelling in the dark caves of my heart and mind. This monster hoards negative words, broken relationships, fear, and insecurity like they are bejeweled swords or chests full of gold. Just when I think the beast has been slayed for good, he awakens ready to breathe his fiery lies at my relationships, my self esteem, and my responsibilities.
My dragon is anxiety.
I was diagnosed with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) a couple of years ago, and I have been on and off medication and in and out of coaching and therapy sessions since then. In between, I tried alternatives such as exercise, essential oils, limiting my caffeine, etc.
I felt a lot of guilt about having to be on medicine for my anxiety at first. I feel like in the church we often look at emotional struggles and mental illness as faith issues as opposed to actual disorders. I wanted so badly to be able to pray and praise my way through my anxious thoughts and behaviors. But, that didn’t make the dragon go away.
When I finally went back to my doctor after months of being off my medication, near the end of my rope with my anxiety impacting my physical health (chest pains, neck pains, inability to sleep), I realized that I could no longer look at medication as weakness. In fact, I needed to stop looking at anxiety as weakness all together.
Anxiety is a real thing. Anxiety is an obstacle. Anxiety is a dragon, and it is a dragon that I am learning how to slay each day.
Medication, my Bible, honest conversation, exercise, essential oils, a loving support system, writing, therapy, healthy foods, books — those are all the tools in my dragon survival kit. I can’t simply do one and avoid the others. My Paxil doesn’t solve all my anxiety. It’s medication, not a miracle, and it would be ridiculous for me to believe that I can take medication but still put myself in relationships or treat my body in ways that create anxiety.
What’s in your anxiety survival kit? What’s in your depression survival kit? What’s in your ________ survival kit? We all have our own dragons, and we can spend all our lives running from them or hiding from them OR we can turn around and learn how to fight.
In the stories of our own lives, we get to either be damsels in distress or heroines. We choose how we see the dragons of our lives. We get to decide if our story is a great adventure or a great tragedy.
So, pick up your sword, fellow dragon-slayers. I’ll be right there beside you. 🙂